Matthew 10:16–25: Wise as Serpents, and Innocent as Doves
In Matthew 10:1–15, Jesus appointed the apostles whom he would send into the world to preach the gospel of his kingdom. Now, Jesus must begin to prepare his disciples for suffering they will endure for the sake of Jesus’ name. This is not a pleasant section to read; however, Jesus’ warnings about the suffering that we will endure have a purpose. By suffering for his sake, Jesus makes us like him. That is, Jesus conforms us to his image in our suffering.
1. What does Jesus mean when he says that we will be sent out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (v. 16a)? What does Jesus mean by saying that we must “be wise as serpents” (v. 16b)? What does Jesus mean when he says that we must be “innocent as doves”? (v. 16c)? From which areas of our lives might we encounter persecution (vv. 17–18)? What is the hope that Jesus provides for his people in this section (v. 19–20)? Why is that good news?
2. Why is the opposition that we face from within our own families so much more daunting than what we endure from the world at large (v. 21)? What is the hope that Jesus provides us after telling us that “all” will hate us on his account (v. 22)? What does Jesus mean when he says that his disciples will not have completed going through the town of Israel before the Son of Man comes (v. 23)? Why is that good news?
3. What does Jesus tell us about the relationship between the disciple and teacher, and the servant and master (vv. 24–25)? If we know that Jesus suffered greatly, what does this tell us about the suffering that we will face? Why do we shrink from suffering? How does Jesus’ example prepare us to face suffering? How does our suffering conform us to Christ’s own image? Why is that good news?
4. Where do you face persecution and suffering because of your faith in Christ? What specifically makes that suffering particularly difficult for you? What from this passage encourages you in your suffering for the short-term? What encourages you for eternity? Why do you think suffering is inescapable in the Christian life? How might we live if we never suffered? What practical implications does this teaching about suffering have for your life right now?